Hardeep Singh Kohli: You can stuff the age of Aquarius
And also January birthdays are depressing birthdays. Never any money after Christmas and for those of us self-employed seldom much prospect of work until people shake off the shackles of winter and embrace the year ahead, which normally happens sometime in the shortest month.This year was different though; more depressing if anything. I was born in 1969. The best of my life has past. All that remains is darkness. Hope that you feel as cheered as I do. Happy birthday to me.
Road rage had snout to do with my driving
'All men are pigs. You can clear off and die. Go and die." (She didn't say "clear"; she used another word that would make your ears burn, your eyes scar and your tongue blister if I wrote it.) It happened after the most innocuous of driving incidents, the sort of mix-up and confusion that occurs on every side street in every city, every day.
I was definitely in the wrong but not by design and clearly without malice. As I reversed back in an attempt to rectify the error of my ways, I rolled my window down and offered a sincere apology for what must have seemed the rudest of driving manoeuvres. That's when she spat her vitriol at me, making her porcine generalisation about me and my entire gender.
I have been called many names while car-bound. The lexicon of loathing has displayed many inventive combinations, utilising my ancestry and my parents' legal state of marriage at the time of my birth. For some reason this woman's Gatling gun approach seemed to cut me more deeply than almost any other abuse I have received.
It led me to think whether as a male driver I was guilty of gender-specific highway crimes. I do exercise some macho aggression behind the wheel. I feel unnecessarily competitive when racing a fellow (invariably male-driven) automobile for a two-metre space at the front of the lights. I become like a British general at the Somme, hurtling my steel and leather assault unit needlessly over the trenches towards enemy lines, to gain the most pyrrhic of victories. I am guilty of fatuous speeding at times, uncalled for urban revving and the odd, very occasional, red mist moment. Yet I also try to be a courteous driver; I try to be considerate. I really do. I attempt to share the road equally with pedestrians, lorry drivers, buses and those handful of cyclists who seem to be aware that the Highway Code applies to them as well as to very other road user. I honour and obey pedestrian crossings; I stop to allow our older, less mobile citizens to cross. I am evangelical about drivers acknowledging each other's small kindnesses, the simple raising of a hand by way of a thank-you can make all the difference to a driver's day. I try to be a good driver. I try. But this time, this day in this side street, as the crumpled face of this bitter woman stared back at me, I realised that her acidic outburst had nothing to do with my good or bad driving. She has much more pressing problems with life. I don't think she likes men.
Can times be a-changing for me and Bob?
I have a confession to make. It's not an easy thing to admit to, and not something I have readily discussed in the past. I do not like Bob Dylan. Sorry. Never have and didn't think I ever would. I found his voice unappealing, his image unappealing and him unappealing. I just didn't get him. Everyone else seemed to, just not me. And when devotees of Dylan started eulogising him and his work, I found it massively irritating.
I wanted to shout my dislike from every rooftop, but I imagined such heresy would be akin to denying the existence of the prophet Muhammed or Jesus Christ. So my feelings were left in a dark corner of my soul; they would appear every now and again when I met someone I really liked only to discover they loved Robert Allen Zimmerman.
This happened again last week when I was speaking to a friend called Sarah. But this time, rather than offer a diatribe of dislike, I explained that I never quite got Dylan and didn't know where to start with him. Sarah excitedly offered a few entrees into his work and, having surveyed the options, she suggested I start with the 1975 double platinum Blood On The Tracks. Rolling Stone magazine charted it at 16 in the top 500 albums of all time. I shall let you know whether I like it or whether it's just a grubby old bloke blowing in the wind.
Braise be for Bugs Bunny
I love rabbit. You will notice that by using the singular as opposed to the plural I mean that I like to eat rabbit. There are few meats that can divide a room more successfully, more emotionally, than rabbit. Veal, duck and even foie gras have their dissenters, but there's something about rabbit that dramatically alienates or endears. I love it. My friend Angela makes a lasagne from it. I have taken to braising it, having been inspired by my Lancastrian chum Craig who would probably braise my mobile phone if I left it sitting in his kitchen for five minutes. And should you be health conscious you should be appraised of the facts: rabbit is lean, low in cholesterol and is regarded as the most nutritious meat for humans. The health components of rabbit put a whole new spin on the phrase, "What's up, Doc".